Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tax Cuts for Rich People: A helpful guide

The republican’s insistence on gifting tax cuts to the wealthiest 2% of Americans threatens to add trillions to the deficit in the next few years. The GOP fought hard for this, and President Obama and dems caved to their pithy demands. (If only Congress had fought so hard to prevent Bush from invading and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, we could have saved lives and money). The GOP machine labeled repeal of Bush tax cuts as “redistribution of wealth” and somehow managed to convince Congress that a tax increase for the wealthy will put an irreparable strain on the American psyche for years to come.

For the 98% of Americans whose average income has either stagnated or disappeared entirely despite a wildly growing economy and bank bailouts, it looks as if we are living in a plutocracy: the rich rule politics.

If the wealthy are in the minority, how do they manage to convince the other 98% of the population that their tax cuts are vital to the economic health of our nation? How is this fraud sold to the public?

For some odd reason, many rich people in this country express that they feel victimized by the system. As if they are being punished for their hard work and success. As if making more money that 98% of the population of the world is a burden that they must shoulder, cold and all alone. As if working long hours as a venture capitalist is so much harder on the body and soul as working long hours as a janitor cleaning up after venture capitalists. Either way, the work we do is WORK.

For example, when I land an illustration assignment or somebody purchases my art, I am working very hard for very little money. Yet, the work is challenging, and I love it, despite the low monetary compensation. This is freelance work with no health benefits, no 401K plan and no taxes taken out until the end of the year. When I drag my tired ass to my day-job at a giant non-profit healthcare policy factory to process piles of mind-numbingly boring paperwork for 7.5 hours, I am exhausted by the end of the day because I have worked hard at something that I feel no passion for. And my butt hurts from sitting in a cheap office chair. My posture resembles a question mark. My hands, vital to my art career, ache from returning email, working on Excel charts, typing stuff into useless databases and filing junk. My brain hurts from being a part of a dysfunctional bureaucracy where employees labor needlessly on their self-appraisal charts for the pathetic bonus handed out every April. My modest hourly wage never seems like enough compensation for losing those hours of my life. But it’s work, and I pay taxes, and the company provides the illusive health benefits.

Unlike many of the top 2% earner-whiners, middle-class and low-wage workers perhaps are struggling too much to feel sorry for themselves all of the time. Or they are realists who accept life as a “you win some, you lose some” existence. They might be not be making as much as they think they should, but they are following their passions. Or perhaps they are working two soul-crushing low-wage jobs with no medical benefits, but they must work to survive. People making a wage far above the national average should thank their lucky stars. Period. Hell, if I made that much money, I would gladly pay higher taxes.

So, if these tax cuts must happen under the auspices that extra money in the pockets of the richest 2% will trickle down to the rest of us, then perhaps there should at least be some stipulations.

Give rich people their damn tax cuts. But I suggest that for the wealthiest 2% of Americans, their tax cut should come in the form of a “voucher.” Kind of like a food stamp. Some basic rules:
  1. The tax cut comes in the form of vouchers (kind of like Monopoly money) and cannot be redeemed for cash. It only has value when it is given to a business or person to be redeemed by the government. People might say, “oh no, that person’s paying with rich stamps!!” But the stamps will be converted to cash from any bank that had received a government bailout.
  2. The tax cut a.k.a “rich stamps” cannot be invested, or put into a savings account.
  3. Rich stamps cannot be used to purchase stocks, bonds, mutual funds, derivatives or any other piece of intangible Wall Street tomfoolery
  4. Rich stamps cannot be gifted to a family member
  5. Rich stamps cannot be donated to your favorite GOP candidate or any political party, but can be donated to charitable non-political organizations.
  6. Rich stamps expire in 12 months. This makes sense as it has been argued that the wealthiest Americans are living hand to mouth and need this assistance to survive. Also, it has been argued that these vouchers are necessary to stimulate the US economy.
  7. If a participant does not redeem all the stamps within a year, the money is returned to the government and the person is sent a medal and considered to be a great patriot.
Here are some useful suggestions for how to use your tax cut voucher:
  1. Buy American!
  2. Purchase art from your local neighborhood starving artist
  3. Buy groceries, cookware, clothing, massages, dance lessons, memberships to the gym, books, videos, movies, dinner, dessert
  4. Drop it in the jar of your local homeless person
  5. Donate to a food bank
  6. Use it on botox treatments, get a spray-tan, get your nails done, buy a garish purse with designer labels all over it, seek counseling for your angry poodle
  7. Use it for health: visit the dentist, get that deluxe colon cleansing, get that diagnostic test that your insurance won’t cover, remove that melanoma, buy some free-range meat products and loads of organic vegetables. Buy a tote bag to put all your delicious vegetables in. Take a pilates class.
  8. Have a dinner party and invite all of your friends. Hire a caterer!
  9. Give your butler a large bonus. Gift your maid with a day at the spa. Buy your nanny a new cell phone.
  10. See a play! Gift your local theater company or favorite museum!
  11. Visit some national parks!
  12. Purchase a space heater for your neighbors who are freezing
  13. Get a new computer
  14. Buy a hybrid car made in the USA (if there is one). Put some fancy rims on it! Buy some new tires!
  15. Send it to soldiers who are on their 3rd rotation in Iraq.
  16. Invest in music lessons
  17. Put some new tuneage on that ipod
  18. Cultivate a hobby or two
  19. Buy some beers for your friends
  20. Tip your waiter more than 12%
  21. Purchase some business casual clothes that don’t make you look like a dork.
The possibilities are endless!!!

I hope that you join me in pushing for the rich stamps program.

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